Serie A: Napoli stuns Juventus on Sarri’s return

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Napoli players celebrate after winning the Italian Serie A soccer match between Napoli and Juventus at the Stadio San Paolo in Naples, Italy Sunday Jan. 26, 2020. (Cafaro/LaPresse via AP)

Serie A leaders Juventus suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at Napoli on Sunday, with coach Maurizio Sarri returning to his former club for the first time.

Napoli, who are 10th on 27 points and having one of their worst seasons for years, had lost their first three home league games since Gennaro Gattuso replaced Carlo Ancelotti as coach in January

Sarri fielded an adventurous lineup with Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala alongside Ronaldo, but they were stifled by Napoli’s tireless running.

However, Napoli broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute when Midfielder Piotr Zielinski put the hosts 1-0 up. Juve keeper Wojciech Szczesny could only parry a fierce, dipping shot from Insigne, and the ball fell to Zielinski who rifled it into the top corner.

Napoli Midfielder Piotr Zielinski (L) celebrates opening goal against Juventus with Arek Milik (R)

Out-of-sorts Juventus took more than an hour to manage a shot on target when Higuain’s effort was comfortably saved by Alex Meret.

Captain Lorenzo Insigne volleyed the second from Jose Callejon’s cross  with four minutes left.

Lorenzo Insigne volleys home for Napoli’s second of the game

Out-of-sorts Juve took more than an hour to manage a shot on target although Ronaldo netted a consolation in the 90th minute as he continued his scoring run.

Juve nearly levelled in a tense finale but Higuain’s overhead kick was saved by Meret.

The Juve coach, who led Napoli to second place with a club record points tally in his final season in charge in 2017-18, was jeered by the crowd and insulting banners were placed in various parts of the city before the match.

“We were passive for the whole game,” said Sarri. “It was a bland performance, we were caught between pressing and waiting. They only had to do the bare minimum to beat us.”

Juve, who are chasing a ninth successive title and could have gone six points clear with a win, instead remained on 51 and saw their lead cut to three points by Inter Milan, who drew 1-1 at home to Cagliari earlier on Sunday.

Other Serie A results

Inter 1-1 Cagliari

Verona 3-0 Lecce

Parma 2-0 Udinese

Sampdoria 0-0 Sassuolo

Roma 1-1 Lazio

 

Chidi Nwoke.